El Pasoans continue to push for renaming Robert E. Lee elementary, end racism

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Petitions have been making the rounds online to rename a local elementary school named after a confederate general.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Petitions have been making the rounds online to rename a local elementary school named after a confederate general.

This issue will soon go before the EPISD School Board.

The momentum is picking up to change the name of Robert E. Lee elementary school. Some El Pasoans said it’s a long time coming. However, many feel indifferent about the idea of potentially removing other monuments that stir controversy.

“I don’t think that this is an initiative that people are doing to make a statement. I think the defense in wanting to remove it has been there for a long time,” Sabrina Bustillos, the Chief of Staff of El Paso Young Democrats, told KTSM.

When it comes to renaming Robert E. Elementary School in Northeast El Paso, both the El Paso Young Democrats and the El Paso Young Republicans agree the change needs to get done. They also urge other El Pasoans to become a part of that decision.

“Maybe a civil rights advocate, or a person that has been very important for our culture here, a Mexican-American culture so that we can move forward in renaming the school,” Luis Hinojos, the President of El Paso Young Republicans shared.

However, both clubs feel differently about the idea of removing other monuments, like the Don Juan De Oñate statue outside the El Paso airport.

“There are dark sides of our history but we must embrace that because that’s what’s made us who we are right,” Hinojos explained, “We have to be teaching future generations so as not to repeat the same errors that past generations made.”

“At the end of the day, if our history of colonization goes ignored, we kind of become accustomed to micro-aggressive racism that is embedded in our historic culture,” Bustillos added.

While the conversations to remove traces of racism become louder, both clubs agreed it’s not to be tolerated in El Paso.

“The narrative seems to be, we need to remember history, but I think that it’s really telling that if we have elected officials advocating for that type of history, it really is interesting because that movement in itself is like.. Robert E. Lee is tied to confederacy which is really anti-American,” Bustillos shared.

“This is a great time to show us out here in El Paso with movements against police brutality or racism,” Hinojos said.

We reached out to Mayor Dee Margo about the recent acts of vandalism and how the City will protect those monuments, and he sent a statement reading, “Protecting monuments will not change, and anyone who vandalizes city property will be held responsible.”

The EPISD School Board is expected to discuss and take a vote on the matter during its school board meeting on Tuesday at noon.

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